Matt Golden, Double Negative, 2011, C-print on velvet paper, cherry frame, 19 1/8 × 17 3/8".

Matt Golden, Double Negative, 2011, C-print on velvet paper, cherry frame, 19 1/8 × 17 3/8".

Matt Golden


Matt Golden, Double Negative, 2011, C-print on velvet paper, cherry frame, 19 1/8 × 17 3/8".

The central work in Matt Golden’s solo show “Bisons” was He Who Eats the Durian Smells of Durian, 2016, a piece consisting of twenty full-page photographs as originally printed in the London-based magazines Wonderland and Rollacoaster. Torn out from the publications and arranged under a single sheet of Plexiglas, they depict the distant travels of Juan Carlode, the fictional musician who is Golden’s alter ego. This composition of images was attached to a wooden stage, turned upright, that was taken from the Russian Club, a former bar and pool hall on nearby Kingsland Road, in the hip London neighborhood of Dalston. When the club shut down in 2008, Golden turned the space into a gallery and photo studios. In 2012, Limoncello took over the space; after the gallery moved on, in 2016, Golden focused on running the space as photo studios again. These, as it happens, are often rented for shoots by the same magazines that published the photos used in this piece. The work’s evocation of the artist’s own immediate milieu becomes even more emphatic when one realizes that the piece is credited not to Golden as an individual, but to the Golden family, including the artist’s partner, Natsue Ikeda, and their daughter Nanaho.

However, the title of the work seemed to be referring to the even broader context of Golden’s multifarious and ever-evolving practice. This creative interpretation of the popular saying “You are what you eat” reflects a potential for change. You can become something else if you change your diet, if you expose yourself to different environments, ideas, challenges. The artist’s statement in the press release says that “with enough force one thing can ‘become’ another.” Golden used various techniques to turn one thing into something else, and this thought seemed to embrace all the works in the show. In Picture a Carving, 2017, the artist presents an empty picture frame, hand-carved from one piece of oak. Often a rather neutral accoutrement safeguarding a work, the frame here becomes the focus of attention and is given the status of precious object. Golden’s interest in transformation was also evident in the humorous Double Negative, 2011, a photograph depicting a pair of feet clad in gray socks marked L and R for “left” and “right.” The feet are crossed, which usually would result in the sides being reversed, but Golden’s photograph reverses the reversal, because the “right” sock is on the left foot and vice versa, so we see the “left” sock on the left side of the picture and “right” one on the right.

The painting series “New Bear Ceremonialism,” 2017, was inspired, I was informed, by the artist’s daughter, who one day tapped out on his laptop a string of commas that she said reminded her of “snow.” The paintings repeat the punctuation marks against a white background. The works, which from afar look rather flat, on closer inspection reveal sculptural properties. Using multiple layers of black and white oil paint, Golden made the black signs appear as if carved into the white background. The personal story behind this monochromatic and otherwise abstract series allowed me to see beyond the roughness of its surface and pick up on the warm, local, almost domestic feeling emanating from the display. Golden’s repeated references to private life as a source of inspiration suggest that it is what nurtures the process of becoming.

Sylwia Serafinowicz